Is media education good enough? The MOST Awards survey finds out what the industry thinks.
“The colleges do a basic overview. Once (graduates) get into the agencies, the education stops. There is not enough training in the agencies – planners are being promoted to strategists without proper training, as there is a lack of senior planners and strategists. There are no mentors in the industry to whom juniors can go for career planning. Strategists, planners and buyers are sometimes doing two people’s work – they are too busy to mentor as they can’t even get to their own work!”
This is just one of hundreds of views collected in the MOST Awards survey about media education. Respondents were asked whether the colleges providing media training were doing a good job. They were also asked whether the educational funding collected by the Advertising Media Association of South Africa (Amasa) is being put to good use and how it could be put to better use.
Brad Aigner, MD of Freshly Ground Insights that conducted the MOST Awards survey, says while there was no clearly positive or negative response, the lack of depth in training of digital and ‘new media’ was a real concern.
“Most of the marketing and advertising courses view digital media as a component on which they touch only briefly. There needs to be a greater emphasis on this to improve the understanding of digital media.”
“(Digital training) is desperately lacking and (it’s) sad. Of late, there seems to be greater urgency to improve the focus afforded to digital media by the media training institutions, but it’s truly disappointing that it’s taken 10 years for them to grasp the importance thereof.”
Many respondents believed that there was insufficient focus on the practical application of what is being taught in media training courses, Aigner says.
From the respondents point of view:
“Students are given textbook insights. There should be a better credible in-house, on-the-ground training schedule.”
“In college, the lines between strategy, planning and buying are far too blurred and not enough practical work is given, combined with the theory. Colleges can do better and prepare students more.”
“Holiday internships during students’ studies at media owners and/or agencies would increase their knowledge and give them the opportunity to make an informed decision if they want to work at a media owner or media agency.”
A significant number of responses suggested that existing education programmes were ‘outdated’ or ‘behind the times’, according to Aigner.
“(Media college) courses are too expensive and, according to some knowledgeable media specialists, the courses are outdated.”
“Course material needs to be updated to meet the challenges of an ever-evolving media environment. More can be done to keep the material relevant.”
There was also a firm belief that media agencies and owners were not committed to training or mentorship, according to Aigner.
“Staff are employed straight from (college) and not given enough training before taking over huge client budgets.”
“The real problem is the lack of sufficient intern training and development after college, driven by the skills shortage and high demands on the experienced few who are then stretched too thin to provide mentorship/training. So, interns are left to learn from juniors with clients demanding more for less, thereby further stretching resources.”
“Students coming into the industry straight out of university are completely overwhelmed by the pace at which we work, the long hours that are sometimes required and the level of excellence that is expected in our work.”
“The problem is that the media industry is haemorrhaging senior people and there is no one left to mentor new talent. You can teach new recruits the systems, like learning how to operate Telmar is not difficult.What is difficult is being able to interpret the data that comes out.”
In terms of the Amasa question, the vast majority of the respondents believed its funds were being put to great use. However, there was an extensive lack of knowledge about Amasa’s role and activities in the industry.
Karen Bailey, an Amasa Johannesburg board member and Cinevation managing partner, explains that the body’s main aim is to raise funds from the industry to improve education and training within the media.
Its portfolio includes:
The AAA School of Advertising media management course that teaches between 50 to 80 students annually. Graduates are placed in industry positions. Amasa plans to make modules targeting media agencies, owners and brand managers, available online for correspondence learning.
The regularly updated Amasa textbook will be digitised and made available as an e-book.
Amasa’s learnership programme provides university graduates with a six-month internship at a top media company and a bursary to attend the AAA media management part-time course and the annual out-of-town workshop.
It holds an annual out-of-town strategic planning workshop for 50 delegates offering lectures and interactive sessions with top people in the industry.
Bailey says, “We keep trying to improve on Amasa’s industry offerings and as such every few years we review the portfolios and adapt them to keep current with the industry’s needs from a media education and training point of view.”
This story was first published in the September 2014 issue of The Media magazine.
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